First Missionary Baptist Church, Parkton, North Carolina, is among the oldest black institutions in this community. Founded in 1898 and first named “Living Hope Baptist Church”, it was of wood structure located one mile east of Parkton along the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
The congregation was made up of members from the rural areas, the majority of whom were farmers and sharecroppers with little finance.
As far as can be recalled, the first regular Pastor was Reverend A. Douglas Brewington. The deacons were J. D. Hill, Samuel Pridgen and Jim Cogdell. In 1911, the church was relocated in Parkton, a new building was erected and First Baptist became a familiar landmark in the town.
In 1913, Reverend Henry Adams was called to lead the congregation. Jim Cogdell, Samuel Pridgen, A. G. McDonald and Barnhill served as deacons. The church was called Parkton Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend Adams’ successor was Rev. Freeman Perkins who served for one year.
In 1928, Reverend Johnnie Simpson, a school teacher from the Bladen County area, was called to serve as Pastor. Israel Robinson and Richard Smith served as church clerks. A. G. McDonald, Raleigh Brewington, Ed Williams, James B. Cates, Samuel McDonald, Sr., Vander McNatt and Jack Weeks served as deacons. The church continued to grow as Reverend Simpson steered the congregation to better training in church activities. Reverend Simpson’s successor was Reverend J. K. Purdie who served the fellowship for one year.
In 1939, Reverend Lee Andrew Melvin, from the Cumberland County Baptist Union area, became Pastor. Under his dynamic leadership, the church flourished spiritually and financially. Reverend Melvin was a Pastor of great religious and Christian attributes who inspired others through his preaching.
On December 27, 1943 with A. G. McDonald, Samuel McDonald, Sr. and Ed Williams serving as trustees, a tract of land known as the “Parkton Colored School lot” was purchased for a new sanctuary. “Church rallies” were held during the fall after each harvest to pay for the land. In 1946, enough money was raised to build the new sanctuary, now called First Baptist Parkton. This sanctuary was built with cinder blocks. A few years later the church was bricked.
As the church progressed, the need for an educational annex and dining area became evident. The members secured a loan from Reverend Melvin and repaid him through the fall church rallies. The project was completed with the help of Deacon Samuel McDonald, Sr., Reverend Melvin, Johnnie Buxton and the congregation. While the new addition was under construction, Reverend Melvin and Deacon McDonald, Sr. gave of their time, without pay, until the project was completed.
During Reverend Melvin’s administration, the church was blessed to have A. G. McDonald, Samuel McDonald, Sr., Jack Weeks, Raleigh Brewington, Ed Williams, Vander McNatt, James B. Cates, Tilmon Williams, Shelly Daniels, Marvin Purcell, Earlie Morrison, Sr., Charles Cates, Charles Patterson, Samuel McDonald, Jr., Zack W. Landis and George Sansbury, Sr. serve as deacons, with Richard Smith and Zack W. Landis as church clerks. Trustees serving were Lacy McDonald, Major Sansbury and Fred Bacote.
After forty-three years of dedicated Christian service, Reverend Melvin retired because of declining health. The hearts of his beloved congregation were saddened by his death on January 19, 1987. He is remembered with love and gratitude by the members he served so long and so well.
The Reverend Theodore R. Patterson served as interim Pastor until a new Pastor was called.
In 1981, Dr. James A. Raye, Sr., a native of Rennert, North Carolina, raised and educated in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was called to be the ninth Pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church. Through his skills in training, he began to steer the congregation into a new era. Under his leadership, First Baptist has grown spiritually, educationally and financially through teaching and training.
During Dr. Raye’s administration, many departments and auxiliaries have been reactivated and new ones organized. They are: a Christian Education and Training Department, Deaconess Club, Youth Club, church (Mass) Choir, Sunday School Choir, Laymen’s League, Kitchen Committee (Food Service), Church Hostess Committee and Bible Study Classes.
Dr. Raye has taken the leadership in teaching and encouraging the membership to tithe as commanded by God. Through this effort, the physical development has grown and a new Christian Education Annex with Chapel classrooms, Pastor’s Study, Library and Secretary’s Office were dedicated on October 22, 1989. Books for the library were given by members of the congregation.
Also under Dr. Raye’s pastorate, six deacons were ordained: Roy Hill, Jr., Lacy McDonald, Earlie Morrison, Willie Vance McMillan, Lacy Patterson and Walter R. Sansbury. Trustees elected were: James A. Lilly, Leonard McKinnon, Willie Vance McMillan, James C. Patterson and Walter R. Sansbury.
Deacons presently serving the church with Dr. Raye are: Charles Cates, Roy Hill, Jr., Zack W. Landis, Lacy McDonald, Willie Vance McMillan, Lacy Patterson and Walter R. Sansbury; Church Secretary/Church Clerk: Lydia J. McDonald; Financial Committee; Melody Bishop, Zack W. Landis, Gerald C. Patterson and Temesia Weaks. Trustees presently serving are: Fred Bacote, Tony Brewington, James A. Lilly, Willie McBryde, Randolph McMillan, Major Sansbury and James C. Patterson.
Dr. Raye led First Missionary Baptist Church in building a new edifice which was dedicated on October 26, 2003. The new sanctuary is located at 195 West David Parnell Street, Parkton, NC. The old facility now houses “The L. A. Melvin Christian Family Life Center”.
First Missionary Baptist Church is proud of the ministers who were licensed an sent out as “Sons” of the church: Reverend Israel Robinson, Reverend Will McEachin, Reverend J. Melvin Jones, Reverend Theodore R. Patterson, Reverend Samuel McDonald, Jr., Reverend Bill Brewington and Reverend Michael F. Weaks.